For New York Court of Claims Judge Seth Marnin, the job has always been about equality and justice.

“I think it's really important to instill faith in the judiciary,” said Marnin.

These two principles guide his work as the nation’s first openly transgender male judge. Albany born and raised, Marnin was appointed to the role last year by Gov. Kathy Hochul.

“The responsibility that I feel as the first trans man in the country on the bench, or even in first trans person in the state of New York on the bench, and one of the things that I take quite seriously, I don't want to be the last, right, or the only one,” Marnin said. “I want to make sure that that pathway becomes well-worn.”

By many, the appointment is seen as a major milestone for the transgender community’s representation within the judiciary system.

“After I was appointed last June by the governor to serve on the court, I received emails and letters from folks around the country, essentially communicating to me how moved they were that I was being appointed; from parents of trans kids who said that they felt like my appointment gave them a hope that their child could do whatever it is that [they want],” said Marnin.

He gets humble when he’s called a trailblazer in the legal community. But he says more work needs to be done to amplify voices from marginalized communities.

“It's hard to reconcile that, as a sitting judge in the state of New York, there are states where I can't use the restroom,” he said. “And that's that is just a reality of our times right now. And it's deeply disconcerting that there are places that I feel like are not safe to travel to.”

Amid Pride Month, Marnin said he feels that the LGBTQIA community has come a long way.

“When I think about our trans youth who are coming out more and more every day, they are fierce. They have demands and expectations that many of us who came before them can't even imagine having made at that time,” Marnin said. “And … Their parents are coming out as parents, proud parents of trans kids. And they are, you know, lobbying our [legislature].”

He also stays committed to mentoring young voices within the community, so that they can develop the confidence to be who they are and not be silenced.

“I think it's extremely important talking to young people. And, you know, we've done it with local high schools,” Marnin said. “I've talked to young people, you know, [in] sort of LGBT community spaces. You know, just they're just conversations about … here are some pathways, here are opportunities.”

And to those who are struggling, Marnin says to stay engaged, work hard and believe that there is a better tomorrow, and a better future for LGBTQIA Americans.

“We do our best work when we are able to show up as who we are … And to be our authentic selves,” Marnin said. “There’s no substitute for that.”